Review: THE GRAVEYARD APARTMENT by Mariko Koike (trans. Deborah Boliver Boehm, 2016)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release in English: 2016
Source: Kindle Copy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: mention of suicide, a pet parrot dies at the start of the story (aftermath depicted), there is a dog and the dog suffers the same fate as the family

Misao, Teppei, and Tamao have recently moved into an apartment too good to be true: spacious and cheap. The only problem with the complex is that it’s surrounded by a graveyard, hence the title. Shortly after moving in, unsettling happenings escalate to the point that everyone moves out, leaving the fledgling family on their own to deal with supernatural forces beyond their understanding.

If you’re someone who enjoys the tropes and presentation of j-horror, this will be a treat.

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Review: ROMANCING THE BEAT: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes (2016)

Genre: Adult Writing Craft Nonfiction
Year Release in English: 2016
Source: Kindle Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve been meaning to pick this craft book up for years now. When I got stuck on plotting the former middle of my latest project, I knew it was the perfect opportuntiy.

Hayes presents a very easy-to-understand framework for plotting romance novels. She keeps an eye on genre conventions and audience expectation while presenting the opportunities and variations in ways that aren’t prescriptive. The definitions of each plot beat stay within scope, and, for queer writers, the main couple is referenced as H1 and H2.

The big take away I got as someone who wanted to level up their character craft and not as someone wanting to necessarily write a genre romance is focusing on character wounds and addressing those both internally and externally. It made my plotting stronger, and still offers space for more character discovery. Highly recommended for people who might be great at worldbuilding and plot, but falter on character work.

Author to Author with Sarena Ulibarri (Another Life)

Happy release day to Another Life by Sareena Ulibarri, a piece of solarpunk climate fiction about Otra Vida, a post-capitalist society that offers a way of life and governance that’s more egalitarian than the previous version of the world. It’s a novella grappling with past lives and offers a compassionate and forgiving approach to working through the sins of humanity’s past and how personal mistakes don’t necessarily doom the present.

I’m excited to have Sarena on the blog to talk about how this novel turned into a novella, what she’s working on next, and how slush reading influenced her approach to her own work.

Buy Link: Stelliform Press

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Review: THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Micah Nemerever (2020)

Genre: Adult Historical Thriller
Year Release: 2020
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: death by suicide, death of a parent (the father), gun violence, vehicular manslaughter, suicidal ideation, violent crime, self-harm, explicit sexual content, polite homophobia, references to past hate crimes, mentions of antisemitism, there is a dog who does not get harmed

Paul recently lost his father and feels adrift in his family. A bit of an outcast, he’s more interested in maintaining his butterfly collection than friendships. When he starts college, however, things seem to be looking up when he meets the wealthy, effortless, and charismatic Julian. What starts off as a friendship immediately erupts into an obsessive and unhealthy version of love

A character study of a deeply insecure and narcissistic young man, plus the things he and his boyfriend are willing – and unwilling – to do to prove their love for each other.

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Review: OSSUARY by T.D. Cloud (Illus. by AmbiSun) (2023)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2023
Source: Amazon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: Emetophobia, blood draining, broken necks, childhood trauma (neglect)

Four curse-breakers venture into the Paris catacombs to do a bit of clean up. Spells decay over time and someone has to clear the frenzied magic. One such curse-breaker is Thierry Pryor, cursed with a family legacy he’d rather keep under wraps. His companions for this next venture are a novice, his schoolyard bully, and a manager more suited to the office than the field. When spells go awry and a tunnel collapses, gothic delights ensue and we learn the truth of what haunts Thierry both figuratively and literally. Steeped in magic and the gothic, both in mood and theme, a quick read that’s an absolute delight.

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ARC Review: ANOTHER LIFE by Sarena Ulibarri (2023)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: May 25, 2023
Buy Link: Stelliform Press

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content Warnings: state violence, climate disaster

Galacia Aguirre is Mediator of Otra Vida, a city of communal living and equivalent exchange that exists on the shores of what was once Death Valley. In the lead-up to her re-election, a colleague of hers reveals to have discovered a way to discover past lives. Unfortunately, Galacia’s past life is of the man who might have singularly spurred the climate decline of the planet. This novella will appeal to fans of the Monk & Robot books by Becky Chambers in the way it offers a compassionate and forgiving approach to working through the sins of humanity’s past and how personal mistakes don’t necessarily doom the present.

An interview with the author will be going up on May 25, 2023.

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April 2023 Reading Recap

Apologies for the delay in posting this recap. Life stuff came up and I needed to take care of my own, but it’s finally here. The biggest thing that happened in April is I debuted with my sapphic true crime fantasy noir novella, Ice Upon a Pier. The reception has been great so far, and I’m so excited that people have purchased, read, and enjoyed it. I did get some reading done, but absolutely not the level I’m used to. I’m really excited to continue down this path and there are announcements coming in June.

Here are the cool things that happens with Ice Upon a Pier:

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ARC Review: THE HAUNTING OF ALEJANDRA by V. Castro (2023)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: April 18, 2023
Buy Links: | Unabridged Books |

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: realities of pregnancy, child abandonment, adoption, miscarriage, suicidal ideation, death by suicide, child harm, child murder, self-harm, racist microaggressions, self-harm

Alejandra is a woman who is trapped in an ideal life that she isn’t sure is at all what she wanted for herself. A stay-at-home mother to three children, she and her husband recently moved to Philadelphia and a demonic presence adopting the visage of La Llorona haunts her shortly upon their arrival.

A horror that leans heavily into women’s fiction, this is a story about reckoning with generational trauma, the bonds that tie families together, and the resentments fueled by unrealistic expectations of perfect motherhood that threaten to tear them all apart, both literally and figuratively.

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ARC Review: A FLAME IN THE NIGHT by Morgan Dante (2023)

Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Year Release: April 11, 2023
Buy Links: Amazon | eBook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the author
Content warning: Past sexual abuse, depiction of PTSD and flashbacks, past forced prostitution. past abuse, blood kink, self-harm (for vampire bloodletting)

Sometimes marriage is a burlesque dancer, a former soldier, and a silver-haired vampire.

Dante definitely understands the assignment of writing a decadent story featuring vampires. There’s sexual excess, there’s the danger and allure of the supernatural, and personal histories steeped in tragedy. This work almost feels like a slice-of-life with its singular focus on the couple and their introduction to the high strangeness of encountering a literal supernatural creature. There’s a genre savvy that’s super evident on the page, and there’s enough historical detail to ground the piece in its time period, particularly each character’s backstory and the metaphorical demons chasing them.

At once familiar and fresh, A Flame in the Night shines with romance while never forgetting the dark allure of creatures of the night.

March 2023 Reading Recap

Once again, I’m sorry that I had to take a break in February. March got me mostly back on track, aside from a mental health episode that’s stalled a whole bunch of things. But, in the best news, I’m done with my novella, Ice Upon a Pier, and it’s coming out with a paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on a Kindle or in digital. All links have been updated in the press kit, including some indie bookstores for those who want to support those venues.

In March, I interviewed Freydís Moon to celebrate the release of Heart, Haunt, Havoc.

Not sure what April is bringing, but to be honest, all I can see is my own release date and not much else.

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